Today's Scotland celebrated by the Parliament


The people of today’s Scotland will be at the centre of celebrations organised by the Parliament to mark the opening of its Third Session.

Prominent Scots, ‘local heroes’, schoolchildren, parliamentarians, religious leaders, visiting international political dignitaries and other guests from public life will be accompanied by performers, artists and members of the media during a day of activities on Saturday 30 June.

The Scottish Crown

The day begins as the Crown of Scotland, with a military escort of two half companies from the Scots Guard and the 1st Pipes and Drums, leaves Edinburgh Castle and processes down the Royal Mile in the care of the Duke of Hamilton before being placed in the main debating chamber of the Parliament.

The crown is part of the Honours of Scotland, which are the oldest royal regalia in the UK, they are the symbols of sovereignty in Scotland. The crown played an important role during ceremonies such as the opening of the Scottish Parliament and prior to the historic 1999 ceremony had not been used since 1953.

The ceremony in the Chamber

Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will join MSPs and guests, including Sir Sean Connery, in the debating chamber for the opening address to the Parliament. This ceremony will be relayed to a large screen to allow people in the landscaped gardens to see the speeches from the Presiding Officer, the First Minister and The Queen.

At the end of the ceremony, MSPs will take up their place in the ‘Riding’. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will be accompanied by the Presiding Officer and the First Minister to watch the ‘Riding’ as it progresses down the Royal Mile.

The ‘Riding’

The 1,200 strong ‘Riding’ is based on the traditional procession marking the opening of Parliament, which signified that the Parliament was sitting and occurred at each meeting of Parliament up until the Treaty of Union in 1707.

The Riding will set off from Market Street at 11am, make its way through the historic Canongate and culminate at the Scottish Parliament’s landscaped gardens at the foot of the Royal Mile.

Celebrities from the arts and sports, ranging from the instantly recognisable to young up-and-coming stars, will take their place in the ‘Riding’ alongside those Scots whose achievements have been less in the public eye.

Among the Scottish sports stars will be Willie Miller, former Scotland captain and winner of the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983 and currently Aberdeen Football Club’s director of football. Joining him is national rugby coach Frank Hadden, who steered Scotland to an historic win against France in his first season in charge at the 2006 Six Nations tournament.

Scots athlete Yvonne Murray, who won Bronze in the 3,000m at the 1998 Olympics, will also step out with the procession.

Scotland’s up-and-coming stars of track and field will take their place beside Murray on the day. They include curler and 2007 Scottish Junior Champion Sarah Reid and Elizabeth Clegg, who took silver in the 200m at the IPC World Athletic Championships in Holland and double bronze at the 2007 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

Alongside the younger athletes will be Jim Gales, former Scottish Blind Golf Team Captain and Chairman, who has been a leading light in the development of blind golfing throughout the UK and helped bring the World Blind Gold Championships to Scotland for the first time in 2003.

‘Local heroes' from all over the country, nominated by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) for their unstinting and selfless contributions to their communities, will be honoured for their achievements by taking their place in the ‘Riding’ alongside Scotland’s stars of the present and future.

Among the ‘local heroes’ are:

  • Donnie MacKay, who runs and supports numerous charity organisations in Dingwall (including the Heritage Society, the Marie Curie Foundation, Dingwall Gaelic Youth, and writes for the Dingwall News), nominated by Dave Thompson MSP.

  • Chairman of Greenock Morton Football Club Douglas Rae, who saved the club from financial ruin and helped lift the side from the Scottish Third Division to the First Division, nominated by Duncan McNeil MSP.

  • Maria Murray, founder of the Asirus charity providing help and support to asthma sufferers across Scotland, nominated by Nanette Milne MSP.

  • John Philips, the Chair of Greenock Arts Guild Theatre, whose redevelopment was recognised by the Scottish Arts Council as one of Scotland’s outstanding arts initiatives, nominated by Ross Finnie MSP.

  • Asylum lawyer Neil Barnes nominated by Patrick Harvie MSP.

Performers and musicians will accompany the guests as they walk down the Royal Mile. Among those entertaining the procession include Edinburgh’s pyrotechnic arts specialists Te Pooka, dancers from the Dance Base national centre of dance and Asian and Scots music fusion outfit Ronak Baja.

They will be joined by highly respected disabled theatre group Lung Ha and acclaimed young performers from Scottish Youth Theatre while the 1st Scots Guards Pipes and Drums will provide the marching beat for the procession.

The full list of performers in the Riding follows:

  • Military bands - Royal Marines band from HMS Caledonia, Rosyth, Lowland Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and 1 Scots Guards Pipe and Drums Band based in Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh.

  • Dancebase from Edinburgh.

  • Kintyre Schools Pipe Band.

  • Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

  • Scottish Youth Theatre.

  • Lung Ha’s Theatre Company from Edinburgh.

  • Red Hot Chilli Pipers from across Scotland.

  • Ronak Baja - Edinburgh based Indian street band.

  • TNT Bagpipe Boy Band - Kyle Warren (Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire), Keith Bowes (Inchinnan, Renfrewshire) and Alasdair Henderson (Dunoon, Argyll).

  • Te Pooka - Edinburgh based Arts Company specialising in fire performance, physical theatre, music, drumming & percussion.

  • Jarls Squad 2007 - Lerwick in Shetland’s Up Helly Aa.

  • Lothian and Cumbernauld Gaelic Choirs.

  • Rysy Polish Song and Dance Group from Glasgow.

Reflecting the diversity of the world’s cultures and peoples, representatives from nations such as India, Pakistan, the United States, China, France, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Malawi and Mongolia will join other international representatives throughout the day.

Schools representing the eight parliamentary regions of Scotland , will join the Lord Provosts of Scotland, representing the nation’s towns and cities and the most senior ranking officers of the air, sea and land armed services in Scotland.

They will make their way with the rest of the ‘Riding’ to the Parliament’s landscaped gardens opposite the royal residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The schools taking part in the Riding are:

  • Kilmaurs Primary School, Kilmarnock.

  • Thornhill Primary, Stirling.

  • Rosshall Academy, Glasgow.

  • Sanday Junior High School, Stronsay Junior High School, St Margaret’s Hope Primary. School, and Shapinsay Primary School from Orkney.

  • Holy Family Primary, Winchburgh, West Lothian.

  • Danestone Primary, Aberdeen.

  • St Machar Academy, Aberdeen

  • Inchture Primary, Inchture, Perthshire.

  • Hawick High School, Hawick.

  • Philiphaugh Community School, Selkirk.

  • Moorpark Primary, Kilbirnie.

  • Woodfarm High, Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire.

Picnic at the Parliament

Entertainment will continue in the afternoon at the Picnic at the Park event in the Parliament’s landscaped gardens, hosted by sports presenter Grant Stott. Details on the line-up were announced by the Parliament on 11 June.

The line up is:

  • 12.15pm Blazin Fiddles from the various regions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

  • 12.50pm Catriona Watt, RSAMD from Lewis.

  • 1.05pm TNT Bagpipe Boy Band, RSAMD.

  • 1.30pm Red Hot Chilli Pipers from across Scotland .

  • 1.55pm Waa-Sylla from Dancebase based in Edinburgh .

  • 2.30pm Salsa Celtica based in Edinburgh.

  • 3.10pm Còisir Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis ( Inverness Gaelic Choir).

  • 3.30pm Fèis Rois, based in Ross and Cromarty.

  • 3.55pm Portobello Ceilidh Band.

In addition, inside the Parliament, the following will be performing:

  • TaikoTherapy from Beeslack Community High School, Penicuik, Midlothian .

  • Jarls Squad 2007 as before.

  • Kintyre Schools Pipe Band as before.

  • Royal Scottish Country Dance Society from Edinburgh.

Reporting on the day will be the winners of The Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) in Scotland Scottish School Magazine Competition:

  • St. Margaret’s High School, Airdrie.

  • Lawside Academy, Dundee.

  • Kilsyth Academy, Kilsyth.

  • Aberdeen Grammar School.

  • Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh.

  • Stromness Academy, Orkney.

  • Portobello High School, Edinburgh.


The day will be webcast live on the Parliament website. (

The event to mark the third session is in three parts:


Debating Chamber: Address by Her Majesty The Queen. This will be relayed live to a screen in the landscaped gardens of the Parliament.

The ‘Riding’: Around 1,200 people representing all fields of Scottish achievement, interspersed with bands, banners and performers will make their way down the Royal Mile to Holyrood.

Lunchtime onwards

Landscaped gardens: A free public event with live music – traditional, contemporary, multi-cultural and international – drama and dance. Guests and the public will be able to sit together in the gardens with their picnics. Café-style tables and chairs will also be available for guests in a sheltered area at the front of the Parliament.

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